Power 100

Most influential people in 2023 in the contemporary artworld


Anna L. Tsing

Thinker - Anthropologist and author forging new stories for a planet heading for disaster

18 in 2023

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Photo: Damien Maloney

When the curator of the 2023 Helsinki Biennial, Joasia Krysa, was searching for a suitable title, she alighted on New Directions May Emerge, from a quote by anthropologist Anna L. Tsing. She is not alone: Tsing’s understanding of the Anthropocene – not as an existential planetary event, but as something occurring locally and with different intensities and causes and consequences – has been enthusiastically adopted by the artworld. Tsing’s redefining of the relationships between human, nonhuman and object has had wide influence, evident in the ecological turn taken by many artists and curators in their work. The author of the bestselling The Mushroom at the End of the World (2015) herself has been lecturing internationally on her new research area, the former petrochemical town of Sorong, West Papua, the landscape of which has been transformed by rampant sandmining: the kind of bottom-up, localised damage that Tsing says is our greatest planetary danger. This informs the new book Tsing has coauthored with her fellow collaborators of the Feral Atlas research group, Field Guide to the Patchy Anthropocene: The New Nature, out early next year.

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